The CoatCheck Tales

stories about stuff, but mostly fashion

Soap Opera

Hell-o as always my dear friends!

Today’s post was inspired on an article from the last issue of Selvedge magazine about this place in Mumbai, India called Dhobi Ghat, name that makes reference to a place where many washers are present. People that for generations have been hired to hand-wash mostly linens for commercial organizations like restaurants and hotels. It’s an unbelievable wave of colors and textures and a very touristic site.


I didn’t realize that those at the right are brushes!

Reading this article remind me of my childhood. When I was little, we lived at my grandparents house. An old fashioned construction that had a central patio surrounded by the houses of my grandpa’s brothers and sisters and their families. The patio was the gathering place in which common activities would take place, BBQs, parties, games and the clothing washing.

In the 80’s having a washing machine wasn’t popular nor affordable, so my grandma would hire these women to wash all the families’ clothes. The ladies would charge by the dozen, though higher for the jeans because they had to brush them. Most of them would wash in the patio and hung the clothes in long wire cables across houses. All the families would alternate days to do so, and we kids, would alternate days of bother because we couldn’t play around comfortably.

I remember these indigenous lady, she must have been 90 years old, I don’t know, but she was really old. She didn’t speak spanish but my grandma knew her language (aymara) and they’d have long chats. She was tiny and hunched, her skin was lustrous and wrinkled like leather. Her hands as small as they were, had the shape of a harmless claws, she probably had arthritis or so.  I’d feel sorry for her: she was so old and still had to work, i’d think…she was so old and so strong though.

She was always fed and also would take extra food, treats and tips home in her ‘back-bag’, a big striped colorful square of woven wool ,which two of its sides were to be folded in (hugging her belongings) and the other two were knotted around her shoulders. She’s come to wash our clothes for years, sometimes she’d bring a young kid with her, a grandson that probably she was taking care of. Then she’d only come to see my grandma. Then she passed away. Maria was her name.

Thanks for stoping by 😀

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2 comments on “Soap Opera

  1. Edson
    April 3, 2012

    I looved this story.
    So inspiring and nostalgic. I brought ME some really good memories of my childhood back in Brazil.
    We still hang our freshly washed clothes to dry in the backyard today but when it comes to washing…we gave in to technology. We use washing machines.
    Thanks, Suzana for this great article.

  2. natural soap
    April 18, 2012

    great read, thanks

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